United Thank Offering

Putting the ‘Thanks’ Into Thanksgiving One Roll of the Dice at a Time

October 24, 2023
United Thank Offering

By Heather Melton, UTO Staff Officer

Over my lifetime, I’ve attended and hosted many Thanksgiving meals. I’ve spent years perfecting a system of preparing and cooking our turkey, determining the best side dishes, and of course, pies. When I became a parent, it was really important to me that my kids have traditions they could look back upon with love and gratitude. In terms of Thanksgiving, some are silly, like each year they read the book, “Balloons over Broadway,” about the puppeteer who created the Macy’s balloons, and build their own. Others are a way to help them think more deeply about the world around them, like engaging with materials about the historical development of the holiday. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, and not just because I’m the UTO lady, but because I love the idea of a holiday without gift giving that focuses on seeing the gifts of the people with whom you are celebrating.

One of the ways we can recognize people as gifts at Thanksgiving is to have a gratitude discussion as part of the celebration. I admit I struggle each year to get to a place where I really love this tradition. The problem, for me, at least, with just asking, “What are you thankful for?,” is that it puts people on the spot, and they want to come up with something really good, really fast. I also think that asking this broad of a question at a meal focused on giving thanks can feel like a lot of pressure and can also produce some unhelpful comparisons or scarcity thinking (which is the opposite of what we want to do when talking about gratitude). 

So last year I came up with the idea of conversation dice to see if this would help people beyond my family have a conversation centered on gratitude that is fun, enables story-sharing, and makes the task of giving thanks feel more accessible. I sent the dice out to beta-testers who had a gathering at their house for Thanksgiving and told them to let me know what they thought. One person shared that folks who often don’t say much talked at length as they answered the questions and that it was so fun to get to know them better. 

Another person shared that their gathering had multiple generations, and everyone loved answering the questions together. What I loved about that feedback is that often when we have all different ages, we end up in small groups by age, and the dice helped bring everyone together. At my own house, I noticed that I was more open to listening to the answers to the questions instead of hoping my kids would remember all the amazing things I had done for or with them in the past year. It meant being open to crazy answers, which means laughter, joy, and a moment to be grateful for together. 

If you’d like a set of conversation dice, you can download either of the two versions here. If you use them, I hope you’ll let me know what you think. They’re also great to use for icebreakers or at meetings throughout the year.

Regardless of how you talk about gratitude this Thanksgiving, I hope that your heart will be full of moments big and small, friends old and new, and so many things to share when asked what you are thankful for.

The Rev. Cn.
Heather Melton

Staff Officer for the United Thank Offering

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